I Want My Students To Taste The Butter Pecan Ice Cream

I’m drinking a peppermint mocha from Starbucks (cliché) and sitting on my parent’s couch back at home. There’s something about the holidays and being home – nothing in the world is better. Happy early Thanksgiving to everyone! I hope yours is filled with family and love.

Due to my holiday-induced bliss, I want to talk about one of my favorite things today: teaching philosophies. As I’m still young, my teaching philosophy has changed a few times so far; it was never set in stone. That is, until a few months ago.

I was student teaching in a 9th-12th grade self-contained special education classroom. The school district which I was placed in is an area with a low socioeconomic status, and where gangs, violence, and drug use by students is common.

I saw so much potential in my students. In one, I saw a great leader. I thought that if used the correct way, he could use his leadership qualities to be a manager. In another, I saw a vet-tech or a nurse. He was so caring, chatty, and just a pleasure to be around. And in another, I saw a game designer. Although reading was not his strong suit, he was fantastic at math and driven in all other subjects.

I expressed to them often how much potential I saw in them, how proud I was of them, and always encouraged them to follow their dreams.

I never understood why they shrugged me off and gave me looks of skepticism when I told them what all they could achieve after high school. . .

Until I told all of this to my university supervisor who said softy, with extreme poise and wisdom:

“If you’ve never had butter pecan ice cream, you don’t know what it tastes like”

She continued after I gave her a side-eye because I had no clue where she was taking this,

“they have never tasted success, so they don’t chase after it”

In that moment I decided hands down, my teaching philosophy was,

I want my students to taste the butter pecan ice cream.

I want them to know success personally, and pursue it on a daily basis.

My student who I spoke of earlier, the potential game designer, was strong in history, but struggled in science.  In history he was always ahead of everyone else and knew his vocab words like the back of his hand. While in science, I was used to struggling with him to get his work done, and my reminders that he can do it were a constant background noise in our class.

Until one day he boldly said to me during science class,

“Give me my vocab words. I’m going to get these like I do my social studies words”

. . .and boy did he study those words. There are few times my heart has been that proud.

He had tasted the butter pecan ice cream.

What’s your teaching philosophy? I would love to hear it, along with the story behind it below! 🙂


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